A list of contacts, as well as talking points to include, can be found at the links below:
Together we can continue to show the importance of newspapers and local journalism, not just during times of crisis, but everyday.
By Dean Ridings
CEO, America's Newspapers
Editor's Note: All newspapers are encouraged to reprint this editorial.
During this coronavirus pandemic, access to accurate and trustworthy information in your community is as critical to life under quarantine and as sought after as hand sanitizer and face masks.
Your local newspaper provides the news and information unique to your community. Where are the testing sites and who’s eligible, which businesses are open, what is the local online unemployment benefit application process, and much more. But your access to local news and information is gravely threatened by the economic carnage COVID-19 has wrought.
While local newspapers continue to field reporters and bring news and advice from public health authorities in print and online — at considerable cost — their revenues have all but disappeared as the businesses that were their most important advertisers were shuttered. That’s why America’s Newspapers and other organizations representing local news providers are asking Congress to take urgent action to ensure you don’t lose your vital sources of timely and trustworthy information.
First, we’re asking that Congress expand and clarify the Payroll Protection Program to ensure it covers all local newspapers and news broadcasters. While some of these outlets may be owned by large organizations, they must survive on their own. It’s only fair that they should be included in any expansion of the program. These loans will keep the newspaper employees — your neighbors — on their payrolls and help get the news to you in print as well as online. We appreciate the bipartisan letter of April 19th from U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), John Kennedy (R-LA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Boozman (R-AR) that requested waiving the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) affiliation rule to allow local media outlets to access funding, pointing to the critical role these outlets play in keeping communities healthy and informed.
Second, we are asking that the Trump Administration direct current federal government advertising funds to local news and media outlets. These public service and informative ads could be similar to the ones running right now about the U.S. Census. They could carry critical government information about data from the CDC, access to small business loans, medical resources for families and other important topics. We’re asking for a commitment that would be spent in an equitable manner across all local news providers.
We also believe that there should be an immediate relief package that is based on total newsroom employees. Some local news organizations won’t survive without some type of immediate grant or infusion that is tied to the organization’s employees who directly work in the newsroom.
This is not a demand for an industry bailout by local news providers. Instead, these measures recognize that local news publishers are on the information front line of the coronavirus pandemic, providing a public service vital to keeping our communities safe, secure and sustained during this unprecedented public health crisis.
Please contact the offices of your senators and representatives in the U.S. Congress and tell them you support expanding the Payroll Protection Program to include your local news source and that the federal government should use your local newspapers or news broadcaster to convey important information through public service ads. And finally, let them know that a grant based on newsroom employees is critical at this time. Visit www.usa.gov/elected-officials for their contact information.
Take this easy action to ensure that your access to local information doesn’t become another victim to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you and may you and your family remain safe and informed during this difficult time.
On behalf of its approximately 1,500 newspaper and associate member companies, America’s Newspapers is committed to explaining, defending and advancing the vital role of newspapers in democracy and civil life. We put an emphasis on educating the public on all the ways newspapers contribute to building a community identity and the success of local businesses. Learn more: www.newspapers.org
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Among recent editorials ...
The Seattle Times:
By Dean Miller, Seattle Times Free Press editor
This stubborn fact faces the growing movement to save local journalism: the majority of grants and other aid may need to flow to newspapers, rather than other news media, because they deliver the majority of the news in local information ecosystems.
For a 2018 report, Duke University researchers set out to document how local original news is generated and were startled to discover that while newspapers were just 25% of local news outlets, they produced more original local civic content than radio, TV and online newsrooms combined.
“We expected there might be some differences, (that) newspapers might produce more,” says Jessica Mahone, a researcher at the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy. “I don’t think we thought it would be near the gap that it is.”
Mahone and her team tallied all the news available in 100 randomly selected U.S. communities on random days. In all, they analyzed 16,000 stories provided by 663 local media outlets, focusing especially on original and local information that fulfills critical information needs, such as health, disaster or education news. READ MORE
The Gazette in Janesville, Wisconsin:
Congress is working on Round 3 of financial relief, and this next one needs to support local news organizations, including this newspaper, whose reporters work every day to ensure the community stays informed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many local newspapers are suffering, in part, because their structures prevent them from enrolling in the new Payroll Protection Program, a product of Congress’ second relief package. The Gazette, Beloit Daily News and Milton Courier are examples of small operations that are part of a larger company, Adams Publishing Group, which is too large to qualify for payroll assistance via forgivable Small Business Administration loans. READ MORE
The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, California:
News is essential, and there are steps that Sacramento can take to ensure that local news organizations don’t succumb to the pandemic. READ MORE
Download PDF listing the Emergency Legislative Relief Priorities and Longer-Term Priorities of America's Newspapers for sustaining local news publishers.
Please contact the offices of your senators and representatives in the U.S. Congress. Emphasize our most immediate priorities and be prepared to explain our longer-term measures.
Remember that you are advocating on behalf of the communities you serve with vital news and information during this pandemic and when at last we are on the other side of this crisis.
Remind our elected officials that we are, in effect, the first responders in our communities for information — trusted, reliable, fact-based, verified information.
The vast majority of these requests fall technically within the jurisdiction of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, whose memberships are linked below. Please review that list and place calls or emails into whichever offices you may feel you have a relationship with or otherwise feel comfortable contacting.
And of course, always emphasize your own personal stories and how the coronavirus crisis has markedly worsened your financial position in an already tough market, threatening both your livelihood and that of your employees, and destroying the ability of your local communities to receive the news they need in these stressful times when every day sees changing developments BOTH nationally and regionally.
And for a link to all Congresspersons www.usa.gov/elected-officials.